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Health Minister launches new initiative to reduce last minute cancellation of medical procedures

24 Aug 2023 3 minute read
Health Minister Eluned Morgan visiting Hywel Dda health board

A new initiative has been launched to reduce the number of medical procedures which are cancelled at the last minute.

Between April 2022 to March 2023, there were 6,350 last-minute cancellations of procedures in Wales.

The majority of those postponed (4,860) were because the patient said they were unfit for the procedure while 1,130 were cancelled because the hospital said the patient was unfit with an acute illness.

The new approach, announced by Health Minister Eluned Morgan, is based on a strategy that has already been successfully implemented by Hywel Dda health board.

The 3Ps Waiting Well Policy focuses on promoting healthy behaviours, preventing deconditioning whilst waiting, and preparing for treatment and recovery among patients waiting for procedures.

Under the plan, people waiting for treatment will get one single point of contact at the health board, who will listen to their concerns, advise on healthy behaviours to better manage their symptoms and signpost them to a wide variety of resources and services as required.

They will also help people prepare for treatment to ensure they get the best results, this will include access to services like exercise classes, either in-person or remote.


Eluned Morgan said:“We know that effective preparation is vital for people to get the best results from their treatment, and it can help prevent last minute cancellations.

“Last year in NHS Wales there were over 6,000 last minute cancellations, many due to ill-health. Last minute cancellations mean wasted resources – it’s a loss of consultant and surgeon time when that space could have been offered to someone else.

“With the 3Ps policy, people will be empowered to take responsibility for their own health and well-being, with information and support available via a range of resources and formats to enable people to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

“It will also empower people to better self-manage their condition whilst waiting, providing advice on pain management and what to do to if their symptoms deteriorate.

“Support will also be provided on how to best prepare for treatment and recovery. This will prevent last-minute cancellations and ensure people get the best results from their treatment. By keeping in regular contact with the people waiting for resources, health boards can also better plan for postponements if needed.”

Earlier this week the Minister visited the Waiting List Support Service and the Virtual Orthopaedic Prehabilitation Service in Hywel Dda University Health Board which has been running since 2021 when it was set up in response to the COVID pandemic.

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “The Waiting List Support Service provides a valuable service to patients in the Hywel Dda area who are waiting for treatment.

“Our staff are available to support and advise individuals on a broad range of issues – from physical fitness to general wellbeing – and work with them to ensure that they are as fit as possible and ready for their treatment when the time comes.

The service is aimed at ensuring that patients are fit and ready, supported while they wait, and help us to minimise the number of procedures that need to be cancelled and rescheduled due to patients worsening health conditions.”

Ms Morgan added: “The service in Hywel Dda is a best practice model which will be rolled out across all other health boards in the next 12 months. This will see patients benefit and services improve across Wales.”

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